Joseph Charter School improves theater arts

Written by Observer staff October 24, 2012 01:47 pm

Jason Crenshaw’s American History Class is learning American history by walking in the shoes of a person of interest. On Nov. 15, they will give speeches in costume at the Josephy Center for Art and Culture.
Jason Crenshaw’s American History Class is learning American history by walking in the shoes of a person of interest. On Nov. 15, they will give speeches in costume at the Josephy Center for Art and Culture.

The Joseph Charter School is offering a new and re-designed theater arts program this year by expanding into the classroom in a variety of innovative ways.

The Joseph Thespian Troupe will continue to honor those students who excel in theater and the drama club will offer co-curricular activities like trips to the Oregon Thespian Festival and productions like the annual Murder Mystery Dinner Theater. In addition, advisor Pam Latta will be working with students in three different classes. 

Jason Crenshaw’s American History class will present “American Voices of Change” at the Josephy Center for Arts and Culture on November 15 at 7 p.m. Admission is by donation and proceeds will go to the Drama Club and the Washington D.C. Trip funds.

In “American Voices” each student is studying a citizen whose words and deeds led to a change in our country. They will then perform an oral interpretive reading of one of their speeches in period costume. Students will learn some of the basics of public speaking during a portion of one class each week.

The “voices” are an eclectic bunch from Woody Guthrie to Steve Jobs to Lillian Hellman.

Latta said each student chose a particular interest or time period in history. Many were attracted to the 1800’s, but one student will cover the Declaration of Independence while another will recite a speech given by Tom Hanks for the World War II Memorial dedication.

Another student wanted to cover animal rights and Latta found a speech by Rachel Carson, known best for her book, “Silent Spring”, which discusses the devastating effects of DDT. Carson wrote four other books while working for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s public affairs office.

“The students are learning within the context of the people who lived it,” said Latta. “It gives them a different idea of history.”

Students in grades four through six may anticipate working on a musical to be presented in March. Students in elementary choir class will learn the basics of performing on stage.

In May, the choir and band classes will present “Broadway’s Best” a program of musical theater numbers which will incorporate choreography, dialog, and costumes. Students will select, rehearse, and perform scenes/songs from a variety of Broadway musicals.

Latta will teach the basics of theatrical performance, including character analysis, stage movement, costumes, and make-up.

This expanded program is part of a larger effort by the Joseph CharterSchool District to integrate the arts —both the visual and the performing arts—into the classroom. The arts open the doors to creativity, critical thinking, and innovation. Children learn best by ‘doing’ and integrating art, music, dance, and theater into the classroom holds great potential for students to be engaged in experiential
learning.

For more information, please contact Pam Latta, evenings at 541-432-7130 or Superintendent Rhonda Shirley at 541-432-7311.